SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation's No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2012, has been building towards a special moment all season. Though he entered the year having already broken every state receiving record on the books, the national mark was within sight as well.
Entering Thursday night's regular season finale against Republic, Mo., Green-Beckham stood at 5,806 career receiving yards and needed just 62 yards to pass the 15-year-old mark of Abram Booty from Shreveport (La.) Evangel. With the numbers that the 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior had been putting up all season it seemed only a matter of when, and not if, he set the record during his school's senior night.
"Coming into this game I was really excited," Green-Beckham said. "I knew this could be the game that I broke the record so I came out here to try and pull it off and do the best I can."
However, Hillcrest started the game slowly. Green-Beckham was limited to one catch for 18 yards in the first quarter. However, with his team holding a 7-0 lead halfway through the second quarter he took a relatively short pass, accelerated downfield, broke a few tackles and scored an 81-yard touchdown.
The public address announcer at the stadium let the fans know the significance of the catch and the home crowd went wild. It was a moment that Green-Beckham admits he had been waiting for.
"This is the top. This is the top moment for me," he said. "I'm really excited right now. I feel really good right now. This means a lot to me. I'm really excited to have this record in my name for however many years. This is one of the most exciting things that's ever happened to me.
"I was really excited to have it on the play with the long run. Breaking the record, that's the first thing that I thought after I caught that pass. I just did the best that I could to try to get into the end zone. It was a spot route. You just make a quick turn, catch and go. That's what I did and my teammates helped me make a big play out of it."
It was not just the Hillcrest fans that showed their appreciation for Green-Beckham's milestone. Despite trailing in the game the fans of the visiting Republic actually rose and gave him a standing ovation of their own.
"I appreciated it a lot (when the other fans gave a standing ovation)," he said. "I appreciate everybody out here a lot. A lot of people came out here and supported me. This is really big for me. All these people have been in my life since I came in as a freshman and they're going to still be there as I keep going on."
At the end of a game in which Green-Beckham caught 11 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns he followed the same routine as always. He stood on the field taking pictures with as many fans as wanted them. While his teammates eventually trickled into the locker room he gladly signed autographs for children and adults alike. He feels it is something he owes to the community.
"Coming in as a freshman I would have never seen myself becoming this type of player," he said. "A lot of people came into my life. I just look back at that and thank everyone that encouraged me to come out here and be this type of player."
Hillcrest also clinched the outright district championship with the win and the team is focused on making a deep run in the playoffs. Green-Beckham realizes it is his last chance to help the program to a state title.
"We want to finish the season strong," he said. "I want to keep going on with my teammates and make a run in the playoffs. This is getting close to the end (of my high school career). I've just got to finish strong these last few games."
With so mu focus on the season Green-Beckham has put recruiting on the back burner somewhat. He has yet to set up any official visits but plans to do so in the future.
"Not just yet. I haven't talked about any visits with anyone yet," he said. "I just want to see what goes on from now. I want to see if I have open time to take those visits. There's not a lot of time left but I'm going to take my time and do it right."
As quite a few schools anxiously await Green-Beckham's decision on where he will attend college he says he does not know when it will come. He has not ruled out the possibility of making an announcement at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.
"It just depends on what goes on leading up to then," he said. "If there's a school that I really like at that point, then I could do it then. That's later on so I just have to wait and see what happens."